An Ordinary Soldier is an unusual book. Its sort of an autobiography but doesnt dwell on growing up or previous history. Doug Beattie skims over his early life and indeed most of his early career. He points out at the beginning that it was originally written for his family but was persuaded it might appeal to a wider audience. I'm glad whoever that was convinced him, as its a riveting read. I read it in one sitting and couldn't put it down. He was RSM when Col Tim Collins gave his now well known speech at the start of the Second Gulf War, he does confirm that he thought it set in train a little too much thinking by the troops while still being inspirational. He dealt with that by shouting a bit and getting the guys busy and preventing them from dwelling on what was ahead. Some of you might have come across Doug in fighting passions a documentary talking about the act of killing in war. If you havent seen it you should. An incredibly articulate explanation by him of what it is to kill and the questioning of what that means to your humanity. Not so much what you have done, or even of regret, but how he worried about what those close to him might think about him in relation as to whom they thought he was before. Look up the documentary as its not something I can explain better than him. The core of the book is about the re taking of Garmsir in 2006. It tells of the gallant efforts of a hotch potch of soldiers from various Arms and Corps, along side ANA and ANP, all of which acquitted themselves very well considering the circumstances. His book goes on to describe his part in mentoring and ultimately commanding the ANP in the sometimes desperate battle in Garmsir. He, along with the ANP and ANA with an OMLTeam fought for the domination of the town, DC and surrounding areas. Its written in the first person, not by a ghost writer I think, and describes his feelings, actions, and sometimes frustrations over a two week battle, that was supposed to last a day. There is clear bravery by the Afghans; there is also disdain for some who didnt seem to see it other than some form of self elevation. Get me a medal and some whisky. The Brits and Estonians performed superbly, as did the ANP. The ANA come across as less than impressive, but also demonstrating a reckless bravery in the bid to recover a fallen commander. KAF dont get a lot of good press, whether that is based on his not having the bigger picture or genuine failures in the command structure are difficult to know. No commander ever has what he thinks he needs as we all know. There is an incident when the Estonian Doctor on scene is asked to justify his request for the IRT for a T1 casualty, his reply was essentially Im the doctor on scene, send it or I will file a report about your failure to react with my HQ. The Cas was an Afghan soldier. It tells of the Cpl medic who quite frankly did an amazing job. Also Dougs driver who was, thankfully the only Brit casualty, with an arm wound. There are many characters that influenced the outcome which a review can't cover in enough detail. The narrative had me envisioning each and every battle, seeing the compounds, tree lines and irrigation ditches of the seemingly endless contacts. Mortar rounds fired, air strikes called in. The JTAC was an incredibly cool and professional customer, who sadly didnt receive an award for his outstanding performance. I felt the immediacy of the moments, the decisions that needed to be taken with sometimes incomplete information. It really took me to where each contact was fought whereby I could almost see the ground. There was a reporter with them during the first six days, who later made a BAFTA awarded documentary, fighting the Taliban, which does a lot to show what went on during that action and some of the intensity of the fire fights, but doesnt even come close to showing what the book reveals. Doug does say he had his opinion of reporters raised by what Sean turned out. I would honestly say of all the Afghanistan or Iraq books Ive read so far, this gave me a better understanding of what goes on with the guys on the ground than any others to date.